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Tahoe Summer Fun

The best ways to soak up late summer in Lake Tahoe.


Tom Zikas

To the lake we go

It’s no secret that the roads of Contra Costa County free up a little in the summertime. One reason is that a large percentage of residents have followed the migratory route to The Lake. Unlike “The City,” “The Lake”—or Lake Tahoe—offers a slower pace and a chance for outdoor enthusiasts to reconnect with paradise. From the Concours d’ Elegance wooden boat show to stand-up paddle boarding and outdoor music festivals, Lake Tahoe offers a myriad of activities that will keep everyone from gourmands to nature lovers singing Tahoe’s praises.


North Lake Tahoe/ Jeff Dow

Singing the Tahoe blues

Don’t sing the blues on your three-hour drive to Lake Tahoe. Instead, get your toes tapping once you arrive, since Tuesdays through August 30 mean free blues concerts on the Events Plaza Stage at Squaw Valley. After Squaw Valley, music lovers should take note of the Lake Tahoe Music Festival held at the Village at Northstar. The summer music series kicked off with Blues Traveler and will continue with Colbie Caillat August 4 and Michael Bolton on August 25.

North Lake Tahoe/ Jeff Dow

Wooden ships on the water

You may not find Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young crooning about wooden ships on the water, but you will see plenty of sleek wooden boats during the August 12-13 Lake Tahoe Concours d’Elegance show held annually at Carnelian Bay.

Drawing over 5,000 participants and visitors, the Tahoe Yacht Club has hosted this wooden boat extravaganza since 1994. With 72 miles of shoreline, many local families have motored their wooden boats in Tahoe’s clear blue waters.

Hike, heli, kayak, or paddle board—how do you play the lake?

Often referred to as the mother of all hiking trails, Tahoe’s Rim Trail is a 165-mile dirt path that circles the entire lake. It can be backpacked in 14 days and is also popular with day hikers, as the trail offers eight trailheads with trail segments that range from 12 to 33 miles in length. An easy hike for families is the1.7-mile trek to historic Vikingsholm Castle at the head of Emerald Bay on the West Shore, built as a summer home for Mrs. Lora Josephine Knight in 1929.

  • Hikers park at the highway 89 Vikingsholm Castle parking lot and take a stroller-friendly dirt path down to the castle. The one-mile trail is steep and is located at 6,300 feet elevation, but offers various resting places along the walk. Tours are offered seven days a week until the end of September; the first tour of the day starts at 10:30 a.m. and the last tour at 4:30 p.m. I recommend a morning arrival, as parking will be easier. All tours take about one-half hour. Vikingsholm Castle, (530) 525-9530, vikingsholm.org.

Hawaii—the birth place of stand-up paddle boarding—won’t make any waves about Lake Tahoe’s claim to be the largest flat-water venue for the sport in the country. It’s also one of the most environmentally-friendly ways to take in Tahoe. To watch the sport in action, visit the 2011 Quiksilver Ta-Hoe Nalu Stand-Up Paddle Classic taking place August 13-14 in Kings Beach. www.tahoenalu.com

North Lake Tahoe/ Jeff DowFor those who prefer to experience the lake sitting down, Tahoe Adventure Company offers multi-day, lodge to lodge, kayak tours. And for those who like to fly, there’s always a scenic helicopter tour of the lake. After a successful inaugural season of heli-skiing in Lake Tahoe, Heli Tahoe has launched scenic flight seeing tours based out of the Truckee Tahoe Airport. With this year’s record-breaking snow pack, try the new Lake Tahoe Waterfall tour.

  • Tahoe Adventure Company, 7010 North Lake Blvd. Tahoe Vista, (530) 587-1277, tahoeadventurecompany.com.
  • HeliTahoe, (530) 544-2211, 1901 Airport Rd., Ste 106, South Lake Tahoe, helitahoe.com.

Food and wine aficionados sample the Sierra

Are you a hiker who loves to cook? From August 7-11, enjoy scenery-packed day hikes followed by early evening cooking classes and wine dinners. Priced at $1,800 for double occupancy, including lodging, meals, guides, cooking instruction, and wine, Cedar House Sport Hotel’s Chef Jacob Burton will guide guests through a multi-course culinary experience that’s not to be missed. This adventure is one of several new active gourmand tours offered by Cedar House Sport Hotel, adding “sport” to its travel repertoire.

North Lake Tahoe/ Jeff DowTaste food from South Lake Tahoe restaurants and sip wine from El Dorado county-based wineries at Sample the Sierra, Sunday, September 4, 2011 during Labor Day Weekend. From A to Z (Auriga Wine Cellars to Zephyr Cove Restaurant), there’s something for everyone at the popular Lake Tahoe food and wine event back for its second year.

  • Sample the Sierra, Ski Run Blvd, South Lake Tahoe. Tickets may be purchased online or the day of the event, samplethesierra.com.

How do you like to spend late summer in Tahoe?

A lifelong resident of Contra Costa County, Nancy D. Brown grew up in Moraga. When she’s not traveling, she lives in Lafayette with her husband and teens. Nancy is the Uptake.com Travel Editor, writes the What a Trip blog and is a Contra Costa Times Lamorinda Sun columnist. Horse lovers will find her at writinghorseback.com. Follow Nancy on Twitter at twitter.com/Nancydbrown.

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